Sometimes I go quiet on here… Regular readers will know that I’m always up to something (holidays are infrequent), and often can’t share my makes until after a ‘press embargo’ has been lifted. Happily, Hochanda seem to be less restrictive than a certain other channel I’ve done work for: keep your eyes peeled for sneaky peeks at the end of the month. Oh, and in passing, if you haven’t found the TV menu option above, that’s where you will find the latest information I have as to when I’m next on your screens.
Back to the point – I thought it would be fun to share a photo of my studio workspace as it appears right now. I’m in the middle of learning new products and prepping samples from which my show demonstrations will be developed. Whoever said that men can’t multi-task? I must be an exception as there are three different projects on the go at the moment – as I am waiting for one to dry, I’m working on the others.
Don’t worry about the naff lighting – that’s done in Photoshop so that I can hide the piles of stuff still waiting for their permanent home. So there’s glass paint, acrylic paint, crackle medium, varnishes, acrylic pieces, MDF pieces, a brayer, brushes and sponges, frost effect paint, Posca pens, scissors, a screwdriver and Gorilla glue, various polymer stamps, archival ink and not nearly enough tea. It does however support the adage that men typically do not clear up after themselves… But by tea time tomorrow, all has to be tidied away for another night of crafting with my studio guests.
Over the last ten days or so, I’ve been playing with cast plaster panels. I used all the techniques I learnt at college to mould, soap, build clay dams, pour and pull a plaster of paris piece. Unfortunately, despite all that work, I completely forgot about overhangs. I ruined both the plaster mould and the panel as I attempted to separate the two with a screwdriver.
Undaunted, though slightly miffed, I went back to the drawing board and tried again. This time I pressed items into a clay slab and took a direct cast from that.
One of the great things about my job is that I get to play with new products. Yesterday I had a go with a sample of coarse Decor Concrete from Pentart. It resembles sand when dry, and once the bonding agent is mixed in it moves like the magic sand stuff you can get in toy shops. It needs to be packed in a mould, and doesn’t mould round something such as a balloon as it doesn’t particularly stick to itself. A quick whizz in the microwave sets the bonding agent, and once it’s cooled, it can be removed from the mould. It becomes waterproof when baked at 200°C for five minutes. There is quite a lot of weight to the finished objects, and I’m amazed at how resilient the thin edges are. The finished surface looks like a light sandstone.
360° product shots are so much easier now I have a foldio360 to fit in my Foldio 2 photo booth. They still have some kinks to work out (such as coordinating with DSLR remotely), but so far, so good! All I need to do now is practice getting items in the middle of the turntable… This disc was moulded in the inside of a finished roll of tape, and then imprinted with a stamp image [That’s Crafty! ‘Beck’] and filled after baking with a water-based black outliner paste. I also added the metallic gold to the edge. Both items required a felt base to be added to avoid scratching any surface they were placed on.
For the last two days, I’ve been working with my mum to complete her commission for a piece of artwork featuring the skyline of Baku, Azerbaijan. Mum knew what buildings she would like to include, and provided the primed canvas (roughly 90cm wide) and a sketch of the layout. The first step was to tweak the sketch a little to improve the flow around the picture.
That done, we settled on trying a bas relief technique since she had no preconceptions of a finished piece. Thus started a mammoth 5 hour session cutting, pasting and carving paper clay, finishing at 10:30pm at night in an effort to allow drying time overnight. Unfortunately, humidity prevented that and we had a morning’s hiatus as it dried in the sun. Uneven drying left some pieces lifting, so these were promptly glued back down with gesso.
Next was the decision as to whether to leave it white-on-white, or to add colour. Well, we went with the colour option, and much spraying with DecoArt Media Shimmer Misters in white and turquoise, with a tiniest spritz of DecoArt Media Mister in Primary Cyan. Add water to blend and water spot, dab off with kitchen towel and repeat. Drying brushing with gesso restored the contrast between the buildings and the background. Embellishment with Cosmic Shimmer Gilding Flakes, Stardust Stickles and DecoArt Media Gloss Varnish completed the picture. Then I decided a little more shimmer was needed on the sea, so added a wash of Perfect Pearls Perfect Pearl.
As a follow up art piece to my ‘Dream’, I thought I would add another 3D word to my studio – this time, Create. The letters are again paper mâché, all undercoated with two layers of gesso and then decorated. I wanted this assemblage to reflect all the creative pursuits that take place in various forms in The Studio, both by me and my studio guests. Sculpture didn’t quite make it, but then I can always say the whole thing is sculpture 😉
It’s been a little while since I posted anything art journal related, what with one thing and another. One thing being completing the Creative Chemistry 103 course – definitely worth the investment. Another being design and installation of a new sand filter for the studio so that I don’t have to empty a stinking waster container prompted only by the stink as it overflows. It’s a simple enough idea – grey water goes into a tank of sand and gravel, filters out the large particulates and then drains out to my irrigation sump ready for watering the garden. No more overflows!
Another another was the creation of a water feature which is just outside the studio. I’d gone to look at the self-contained fountains/water features at our local garden centre, and somewhat astounded by the price tags was asked ‘surely you can do something yourself?’. So with a bit of thought, a quick shopping trip on Amazon, a tube of mastic, and some terracotta pots, a plan came together. Throw in a watering can previously belonging to my grandfather and a personal, upcycled, repurposed water feature now trickles away in counterpoint to the gushing waterfall that has just been installed in a neighbour’s garden.
But, back to the point! It was raining today, so I got to work in my art journal with the intention of putting together the next art journal session samples ready for September. The theme is ‘pockets, flips and flaps’…
It was wrap up day on Creative Chemistry 103 some time over the weekend, and I finally got to watch the final video from Tim Holtz. The challenge was to use some of the techniques we’d covered during the week on a different surface. I had bought some of the District Market French Burlap Panels in a sale some time ago, and decided these would be perfect to decorate up for the occasion.
So this is what happens after applying texture paste, embossing powder, Distress Crayons, Distress Stains, clear matte texture paste, stencils, water, baby wipes, gesso, matte multi medium, Distress Reinkers, Distress Glaze and a whole lot of patience and drying time! I love the texture play between the burlap and the scroll work, opacity versus transparency and still amazed at the versatility of the Distress Crayons.